CORNWALL Ontario – I was realizing that it’s been twenty years since I was at Centre ice at the Civic Complex. The first time was my first real experience with Cornwall.
I was travelling with the Greatest Hockey Legends team. It was fun. Heck, it was a historic dream for any hockey fan as I rode the bus and lived with the team on trips deep into Ontario and Quebec.
I got whole sentences out of Norm Ullman. Even at their advanced ages I got to see that NHL talent. Maurice Richard was the ref. He was after all in his 70’s at the time, but he would take his stick out on the ice for warm up.
Watching him put the puck top shelf in an isolated moment is something I can’t put words to. We bonded on trips. It might have to do with me delivering his “papaya juice” on occasion or just because trips could be boring and I engaged him without being a fan boy.
We’d met up with the team bus at the Fairview shopping centre and by the time we made the civic complex I was definitely feeling no pain 🙂 Our first line winger, Jimmy Mann, a 1st round draft pick of John Ferguson’s while GM for Winnipeg, was driving the bus.
Gilbert Perreault was with us on the trip. He had filled out, but was filling the room with his renditions of Elvis. The man could still fly on his skates though. I took one of his sticks and in my cowboy boots, sheepskin winter jacket and shades skidded out to centre ice to take some slap shots at the net. I was laughing. I felt great. At one point I remember lying on the ice looking up after slipping. The lights were down and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was playing. It was a magical moment.
As I got up Guy Lafleur walked in with his hockey bag. We looked at each other oddly. The Legends of course won the game. I wanted to get back to Montreal ahead of the bus and Larry Robinson was kind enough to give a ride in his wheels. I loved working with Larry, which usually also meant working with Shutty. (HOF Hab Steve Shutt) For a gig we had in Kingston Mr. Robinson wanted a limo so we piled in, me after a night of partying ( hey I wasn’t 30 yet!). We stopped on the way at Denny’s for an early breakfast off the 401 and sitting between the two I watched a waitress zoom to the table with a sharpie and menu. She asked me to sign and said she’d seen all my movies. I signed while my two companions egged “Mr. Candy ” behind the shades. She probably still treasures it.
Now, twenty years later I will be introducing the River Kings new owner Steve Moreau and dropping the puck tonight for what will be a better and kinder chapter for the Cornwall River Kings.
The game starts at 7:30 PM. This is your chance Cornwall to show what a hockey town we really are. You can come cheer me, or boo me, but bring a friend and make sure we fill this house and give our new team owner the kind of impression that will get him to write a few extra cheques and get the team an upgrade on talent as there’s still plenty of hockey to be played this season.
Now if we can bring back the River Queens but instead of scantily clad puck bunnies use drag queens……
Will you be there Cornwall? You can post your comments below.
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